Erskineville Town Hall Including Interior and Front Forecourt | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Erskineville Town Hall Including Interior and Front Forecourt

Item details

Name of item: Erskineville Town Hall Including Interior and Front Forecourt
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Community Facilities
Category: Hall Town Hall
Primary address: 104 Erskineville Road, Erskineville, NSW 2043
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
104 Erskineville RoadErskinevilleSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Erskineville Town Hall has historic significance for its ability to demonstrate the growth of small inner city municipal councils from the 1870s to the 1940s and especially the development of the Erskineville Municipal Council. It is significant to the local community for its associations with people and events prominent in the development of Erskineville. The form, fabric and layout of the building demonstrates the self image and aspirations of local government circa 1938. It has aesthetic significance as a substantially intact small scale Inter-war Mediterranean style Town Hall designed by Lindsay Scott which provides a civic focus for the Erskineville Road shopping precinct.
Date significance updated: 22 Sep 05
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Lindsay Scott
Builder/Maker: C. Hayter and Son
Construction years: 1937-1938
Physical description: Single storey Inter-War Mediterranean style building.

The site of the current Erskineville Town Hall has an irregular wedge shape with a total area of 682.9sqm. The site has been reduced in size due to resumptions for tramway and road widening. The building is orientated to the south and west, with a forecourt to Erskineville Road.

The building is roughly " L" shaped, and built close to the rear and side boundaries. The entry is positioned at the fulcrum, creating a public forecourt on Erskineville Road. Parapeted wings fan out from the curved classical entry porch and vestibule which is surmounted by a copper topped octagonal tower. The building is faced with chocolate face brick with stone coloured dressings. The tower is clad in terracotta roof tiles. Fenestration comprises double hung six pane timber sash windows with moulded render surrounds to primary facades.

The plan centres around the classical entry porch and entry vestibule, surmounted by an octagonal dome. The vestibule accesses the Mayors room. A lobby connects the vestibule with the Council Chambers, Alderman's room, hall, office and amenities. The vestibule features a fine terrazzo floor with green and buff squares and decorative multi-coloured central panel. Walls have ashlar markings and decorative arches and crests enhance the scale of each doorway. Clerestory windows light the space from above. The entrance doors are of maple with a copper glazed fanlight.

Internal walls are smooth rendered, with a picture rail generally incorporated into the cornice. There is a fireplace of briquettes and sanded surround in the former Mayors Room. Major doors are of maple with engraved glass panels, while single leaf solid doors are 3 panelled and some original octagonal chromium handles survive. Architraves, skirtings and other original joinery are moulded timber with squared profile and polished finish.

Major alterations to the interior are documented in plans dated 1956, 1969, and 1990. The 1956 works included additional amenities at the north east corner, new WC to west elevation and new ramp at north passage. In 1990 the Town Hall was converted into John Willis Room, access and amenities were altered including the fitting of a bar in the bay at the western end of the hall, and the construction of a glazed airlock to the former entry which has subsequently been removed. Despite these alterations, the building is substantially intact both internally and externally.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Fair - on going problems with movement and cracking. The terracotta tile roof was damaged in the April 1999 Sydney hailstorm, including tiles over the domed entry. All roof damage was subsequently repaired.
Date condition updated:21 May 07
Modifications and dates: In 1956, the building was altered to incorporate additional lavatories. These works were designed by the City Builders Surveyors Department, principle architect A. Snillie. In 1969, South Sydney Council submitted a Building Application for the erection of internal partitions to Health Department Offices. In March 1990, plans were drawn by Barry Mitchell and Associates, altering the Town Hall which was renamed The John Willis Room.

In April 2003 approval was given to carry out internal alterations to install new toilets, disabled access ramps and changes to some windows, doors and construction of a ramp externally ( D 2002/823)
Further information: The building remains largely intact externally. Alterations have concentrated on lesser facades, have been sympathetically executed and are of a low scale.

Internally despite a series of alterations, the plan layout is substantially intact and principle rooms have retained much of their original detail. Detracting elements include security bars and fences to side passages , air conditioning units and notice boards.

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Community Hall
Former use: Town Hall

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. With European occupation of the Sydney region from 1788 , the Cadigal and Wangal people were largely decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

TIMELINE OF THE AREA

1794 - Nicholas Devine was granted 120 acres at Bulnaming.
1799 - Nicholas Devine granted a further 90 acres at Bulnaming.
1828 - Subdivision of Devines Estate into 7-13 lots commences.
1830 - Death of Nicholas Devine. Devine's Estate passes to Bernard Rochford.
1830's - Sale of allotments and development of villa estates.
1848 - Edward Devine a relative of Nicholas Devine arrived from Ireland and made a claim on the Devine Estate.
1872 - Macdonaldtown Municipality was incorporated.
1881 - Erskineville Public School was established.
1884 - Erskineville Station was opened on the Sydenham (Illawarra) line.
1885 - Macdonaldtown Park (Erskineville Oval) was proclaimed.
1894 - Name of Municipality changed to Erskineville in 1894.
1909 - Electric trams ran to Erskineville.
1912 - Erskineville Station relocated.
1920's - The population of Erskineville began to decline.
1949 - Small municipalities were amalgamated and became part of the City of Sydney.
1968 - South Sydney Municipal Council created.
1982 - South Sydney Council amalgamated.
1988 - South Sydney Council reformed.
2004 - South Sydney Council amalgamated with City of Sydney.

(Information sourced from 'Conservation Plan, Erskineville Town Hall', Architectural Projects Pty Ltd, 10 May 2002).


HISTORY OF THE AREA

Nicholas Devine was granted 120 acres at Bulnaming (near Newtown) in 1794 and adjoining 90 actres in 1799. Devine was superintendent of convicts, arriving in Sydney in 1790. When Devine died in 1830, his estate passed to his assigned servant Bernard Rochford and his wife. Devine's Estate aws subdivided from 1823. The northern part of the Estate was subdivided into Lots of 7-13 acres. The early purchases of land in Erskineville were predominantly middle class professionals who built cottages or villas on large grounds. From 1844, the subject land was in ownership of R. Robey, who built Linthorpe House. The Linthorpe Estate extended from Erskineville Road to Wislon Street, and the house was located North of the railway.

Macdonaldtown Municipality was incorporated in 1872 after a petition from the people of the Erskineville precinct was presented. By the late 1880's, a Council Chambers had been constructed on Erskineville Road, between John and Septimus Street, just east of the present site. In 1893 part of Macdonaltown became a new suburb known as Erskineville, via the Borough of Erskineville Naming Act. The boundaries and the name changed to Erskineville in 1894.

In 1901, the site was transferred to Thomas Casserley of Erskineville, Station Master, and in 1909 part of the allotments were transferred to the Minister for Public Works, following the pasing of the George Street to Erskineville Tramway Act in 1906. A survey from this time shows a substantial building on the corner of Erskineville Road and Septimus Road (located within the portion of land later acquired for road widening), and smaller building at the rear. In 1932, notification of the re-alignment of Erskineville Road was published in the Government Gazette and in 1936, land was transferred to the Commissioner for Main Roads for this purpose. The remainder of the allotments (comprising the site of today's building) was transferred to the Council of the Municipality of Erskineville in 1938.

The new Erskineville Town Hall was designed by architect Lindsay G. Scott, Architect of 26 O'Connell Street Sydney in 1936. The builders were C. Hayter and Son. The foundation stone was laid on 1st of December 1937 by the Mayor, Alderman J.W. Elliot J.P. The Town Hall was opened almost a year later on 26 November 1938, by Hon. E.S. Spooner, MLA.

Lindsay G. Scott was born in Grafton, NSW and came to Sydney in 1901. He studied architecture at the Sydney Technical College. He worked in the offices of Robertson and Marks, and H.E. Ross and Rowe, and during this time was responsible for Mark Foy's Emporium. He commenced private practice in 1934, and his work included domestic, industrial and public buildings. Lindsay Scott was the Vice President and Honorary Architect to the Surf life Saving Association for many years and in this capacity designed surf pavilions at Palm Beach, South Curl Curl and Harbord. Scott died in 1941 at the age of 42.

Small municipalities were amalgamated in 1949, and Erskineville became part of the City of Sydney. In 1968, South Sydney Municipal Council was created from the five original municipal areas (Redfern, Waterloo, Darlington, Erskineville and Alexandria), plus part of Newtown. Erskineville Town Hall being the most contemporary, was selected as the official Council Chambers. South Sydney was amalgamated into the City of Sydney in 1982, split off again in 1988 and again amalgamated with the City of Sydney in 2004.

(Information sourced from 'Conservation Plan, Erskineville Town Hall', Architectural Projects Pty Ltd, 10 May 2002).

BUILDING AND SITE TIMELINE

1794 - Nicholas Devine was granted 120 acres at Bulnaming.
1799 - Nicholas Devine granted a further 90 acres at Bulnaming.
1827 - Power of Attorney passes to Bernard Rochford.
1828 - Subdivision of Devine Estate commences. Allotments range in size from 7-13 acres.
1830 - Death of Nicholas Devine. Devine Estate passes to Bernard Rochford.
1830's - Sale of allotments and development of villa estates.
1831 - Estate leased to W Wright
1836 (?) - Transfer to D Chambers
1844 - R Robey proprieter.
1859 - Land was mortgaged from Robey to Thomas Walker of Yaralla, Concord. At this time the property was occupied by Chris Rolleston Esq. and an application for a Certificate of Title was made.
1872 - Certificate of Title issued for Lots13 & 14 DP 64 - Joseph Fawcett proprieter
1872 - Macdonaldtown Municipality incorporated.
1880's - Original Erskineville Town Hall constructed on adjoining site.
1901 - Land transferred to Thomas Casserley, Erskineville Station Master.
1909 - Part of land transferred to Minister for Public Works for tramway.
1909 - Electric trams ran to Erskineville.
1932 - Notification of re-alignment of Erskineville Road in government Gazette.
1935 - Part of the site resumed and declared a public road.
1936 - Part of the land transferred to Commissioner for Main Roads.
1936 - Plans for new Erskineville Town Hall drawn by Lindsay G Scott.
1937 - Foundation Stone laid by Alderman JW Elliot JP Mayor.
1938 - Site transferred to Council of the Municipality of Erskineville. Site of former Council Chambers resumed for road widening.
1938 - Erskineville Town Hall officially opened by Hon. E.S. Spooner, MLA
1956 - Approval of Alterations and Extensions - additional amenities. The City Building Surveyors Department
1969 - Building Application - Erection of internal partitions to Health Department Offices.
1990 - Alterations to Town Hall, reopened as "The John Willis Room" to design of Barry Mitchell and Associates.

(Information sourced from 'Conservation Plan, Erskineville Town Hall', Architectural Projects Pty Ltd, 10 May 2002).


HISTORY OF THE SITE AND BUILDING

Land passes from Nicholas Devine to Bernard Rochford upon his death but was in the control of Rochford from 1827. In 1831, Rochford leased land to W. Wright, and Malcolm and mortgaged part of a larger portion, later transferred to D Chambers. In 1843 the property was mortgaged to JB Darvall, and passed to R Robey in 1844 and is listed as such in Sands and Kenny Map of 1858. Ralph Mayer Robey, merchant and wholesale ironmongery of the Sugar Works, built Linthorpe House, was listed as a defendant in the Newtown Ejectment Case.

In 1859, the land was mortgaged from Robey to Thomas Walker of Yaralla, Concord. At this time the property was occupied by Chris Rolleston Esq. and an application for a Certificate of Title was made. The allotment was transferred to Joseph Fawcett and a new Certficate of Title was issued in 1872. The allotment at this time was described as lots 13 and 14 DP 64 and was approximatley 1 rood a dn 6 perches.

By the late 1880s, a Council Chambers had been constructed on Erskineville Road, between John and Septimus Street, just East of the present site. The Erskineville Hotel was located on the western corner of Septimus Street. The Imperial Hotel and the Rose of Australia are also indicated on an 1880s map. Erskineville Station is indicated on Burren Street north of Erskineville Road at this time. Erskineville Road was known as Newtown Street in 1858. Septimus Street appears in maps of the 1880s. The former Council Chambers is indicated on an adjacent site in a detailed survey dated 1937, and is almost wholly within the portion of that site acquired for road widening purposes, and was demolished c1938.

In 1901, the land was transferred to Thomas Casserley of Erskineville, Station Master, and in 1909 part of the allotments were transferred to the Minister for Public Works, following the passing of the George Street to Erskineville Tramway Act in 1906. Constructed in 1909, the tramway looped from Burren Street, along Erskineville Road and back up Septimus Street. A survey from this time shows a substantial building on the corner of Erskineville Road and Septimus Road (located within the portion of land later aquired for road widening), and a smaller building at the rear.

In 1932, notification of the re-alignment of Erskineville Road was published in the Government Gazzette and in 1936, land was transferred to the Commissioner of Main Roads for this purpose. The remainder of the allotments (comprising the site of today's building) was transferred to the Council of the Municipality of Erskineville.

The new Erskineville Town Hall was designed by architect Lindsay G. Scott of 26 O'Connell Street Sydney in 1936. The Quantity Surveyor was W.J Hunt of Pitt Street, Sydney, and the builders were C. Hayter and Son. Plans of the original design have not survived however the City of Sydney Archives hold original specifications. The foundation stone was laid on 1st of December 1937 by the Mayor, Alderman JW Elliot J.P A Plaque commemorates this event. The Town Hall was opened almost a year later on 26 November 1938, by Hon. E.S. Spooner, MLA. Minister for Works and Local Government, in the presence of the new Mayor, Alderman N McGuiness J.P., the Town Clerk W.I. Donald, JP, and the full Council. A plaque commemorates this event.

In 1945, Erskineville Council received the A.R. Bluett Memorial Award, a plaque commemorating this award is located in the foyer.

In 1956, the building was altered to incorporate additional lavatories. These works were designed by the City Building Surveyors Department, principle architect A. Smillie. The works include the addition of a parapeted brick male and female toilet block to the north east corner of Council Chamber, new paving, steps, bricking up of windows (east façade) and new openings (north and east façade) to provide access to this amenity block, and a new brick WC and reconfiguration of men's toilets off the Town Hall Lobby.

In 1969, South Sydney Council submitted a Building Application no. 42/69, dated 10 November 1969, for the erection of internal partitions to Health Department Offices at a cost of $900.

In March 1990, plans were drawn by Barry Mitchell and Associates of Ryde, altering the Town Hall, including a new glazed airlock (which was removed late 1998), new bar fitout to bay, new lighting finishes and entry lobby to Town Hall, which was renamed The John Willis Room.

The title notes that Council of South Sydney was registered proprieter from 1994 until 2004 when it was transferred to the Council of the City Of Sydney.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Community facilities-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The original Town Hall on the adjoining site was one of a number of Town Halls constructed after 1880 when Councils were first able to levy rates. The original Town Hall reflects Erskineville's period of high prosperity from 1870-1920. The siting of the existing Erskineville Town Hall (adjoining the original Town Hall) describes the second major phase of development of Macdonaldtown, the subdivision of villa estates in the 1880's associated with the establishment of the Illawarra railway line in 1884, and its continuing importance in the 20th Century.

The redevelopment of Erskineville Town Hall and adjoining buildings along Erskineville Road reflects the continuiing importance of Erskineville Road in the 20th century with the development of the tramway extension in 1909 and road widening in the 1930's.

The site has historic significance for its ability to demonstrate the growth of small inner city municipal councils from the 1870s to 1940s and especially the development of the Erskineville Municipal Council.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Associated with architect, Lindsay G Scott. He was the Vice President and Honorary Architect to the Surf life Saving Association for many years and in this capacity designed surf pavilions at Palm Beach, South Curl Curl and Harbord.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Erskineville Town Hall has aesthetic significance as a substantially intact Town Hall designed in the Inter-war Mediterranean style of architecture which is a major element in Erskineville Road and provides a civic focus in the precinct. It is one of a group of Interwar buildings that describe a later phase of development in the predominantly 19th century streetscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Representative of a local community focus.It is significant to the local community for its associations with people and events prominent in the development of Erskineville.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Research to date has not revealed any aspects of this significance
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The building is relatively rare at a local level as a small scale suburban Town Hall of the Inter-war Period.

(Information sourced from 'Conservation Plan, Erskineville Town Hall', Architectural Projects Pty Ltd, 10 May 2002).
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Representative of an Inter-war Mediterranean style Town Hall.

Erskineville Town Hall is a representative example of local government buildings and interiors of the late 1930s.
Integrity/Intactness: Largely intact
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

The overall form of the building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Impact Statement, in accordance with the policies and recommendations of the Conservation Management plan prepared for the building, is to be prepared prior to works being undertaken, unless of a minor nature and which will not impact on the significance of the building. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. Internally, intact 1930s details and layout of primary rooms and spaces to be retained. Any alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of lesser significance, provided any future work does not compromise significant aspects of the building. Finishes never intended for painting such as face brickwork and terrazzo to be remained unpainted. Surfaces intended for painting should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Any future development to preserve the existing form, external surfaces and materials of the primary facades. Fenestration patterns to be retained to street facades. Door and window openings should not be enlarged or closed in.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I61114 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenArchitectural Projects Pty Ltd2002Conservation Plan, Erskineville Town Hall

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2420716


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